The tale/series begins in the middle of the thirtieth century. Alicia Dierdre DeVries is only fourteen-years-old when the military took an interest in her. Very few teens pop the test filters. Even fewer complete schooling shortly thereafter. Her psych evaluations are already astronomical. Age fifteen finds her in college. Before most people graduate high school, Alicia has finished college and entered the Marine Corps. Camp Mackenzie, the most grueling training ground where Marines are almost taken apart and totally rebuilt, is considered "fun" for Alicia. Directly afterward, she asks to join the Recon Marines and actually gets it. The Recon Marines are considered, even by their fellows, as among the Corps' elite. Once in the Gyangtse System, Alicia's military career really begins...round page twenty-five.
Alicia is considered "larva" by her fellow Wasps until her first real combat duty. Everything hits the fan eventually and Alicia matures quickly, very quickly, under fire. Those watching her at age fourteen still are and Alicia finds herself recruited into the Imperial Cadre, just before her nineteenth birthday. The Cadre are the Emperor's personal sword, paladins, and champions. They are the elite of the elite of the elite. Everyone else has one synth-link to worry about. The Cadre each have three. Alicia must undergo lots of surgery to have it all implanted. She also has a pharmacope, where her body injects itself with needed meds, from the inside, whenever needed. Some of those meds are unique only to the Cadre. One of those drugs is a neurotoxin which would automatically kill her if the need arises. The chance of long term survival in the Cadre is small.
Here I must skip lots. Let us just say that author David Weber outdoes himself with the battles and brilliant tactical moves. No one "retires" from the Cadre. They are simply classified "inactive". They may be reactivated at any time during their life to serve the Emperor and the Empire. Alicia is inactive only a few years when her entire family is massacred by pirates. Almost dead, Alicia finds help from an impossible source. She is "reactivated", of course, but believed to be insane when she tells how she accomplished the impossible. None believe her, yet no one can figure out how Alicia keeps doing the impossible. So Alicia and her impossible source go after the pirates themselves. Problem is that the pirates are not what they seem to be. If Alicia manages to find out the truth, the Empire may very well collapse!
***** Fans of David Weber's Honor Harrington series will fall in love with this new series featuring Alicia DeVries! Other than words such as "Fleet", "Imperial", and the military hardware used in Honor's novels, nothing is the same. You will NOT see familiar characters. To my knowledge, they are not even mentioned. No treecats either. As I stated, this is an ENTIRELY new series. The enemies within this story are not always human either. The Rish are giant and lizard-like. No, more like a T-Rex but on a smaller scale. I found myself just as enthralled with the Rish as Alicia. Enough said on THAT subject. I repeat, this is nothing like Honor Harrington! I stress that often because as unusual as Honor is, even without her treecat, Nimitz, Alicia is even more. Yes, she moves up in rank quickly, but that is normal in war time. All I can say without ruining the numerous surprises and twists is that I found myself totally blown away with Alicia. If the author continues this state of high standards for the next novel in the series, I may not be able to choose which is better; Honor or Alicia. *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.